The breed you see here is a Phu Quoc Ridgeback, said to be the world’s rarest breed with only 800 registered worldwide. The breed has been getting a lot of Internet media attention lately since puppies from a recent litter have been selling for $23,300, but we’re choosing to write about the breed, and not the hoopla surrounding a dog’s “price-point” (not that we don’t have a thought or two about it).
Phu Quoc Ridgebacks (or ‘Beautiful Island Ridgeback’) get their name from the island of their origin: Phu Quoc in Vietnam’s southern Kien Giang Province. Phu Quocs are one of only three ridgeback breeds in the world (the other two are the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Thai Ridgeback), the Phu Quoc being the smallest of the three. The breed has an unusually pure gene pool owing to its isolation on an island for so long.
The dogs can be jet black, a dark reddish brown, a mix of golden brown and black, and the distinctive ‘tiger stripe,’ essentially a combination of all the other coat colors. They are loyal dogs, natural hunters and very agile. They are playful and highly versatile in that they can hunt, climb trees, and are said to be even able to catch fish from the sea.
According to phuquocridgeback.com, the French were the first to classify the Phu Quoc Ridgeback as a distinctive type of dog in the 1800s. The breed appeared in the publications Larrouse Encyclopedia and ‘Les Races de Chiens’ in 1897 and two were brought to Europe and exhibited in dog shows towards the end of the 19th century. Currently, the Vietnamese Kennel Association is working to create a recognized breed standard for the breed, but Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are still considered very rare even in Vietnam.
Photo by Nguyễn Thanh Quang via Wikicommons